Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Fun Improves Persistence

Recent research* suggests that when working on long term goals, it is helpful to find enjoyment in the pursuit of those goals in the short run.  For example when people find the process of working out enjoyable, they tend to persist longer.  They found the same thing for those who experienced enjoyment with studying.

We really don’t need a research study to tell us that we tend to work on goals we enjoy rather than on goals we do not enjoy as much.  But what does this tell us that we can apply to the workplace?

It appears to emphasize the social context of work, i.e., making work enjoyable – even fun!  Some “old schoolers” (and I count myself as one) might bristle at this.  “It’s not supposed to be fun – that’s why they call it work!”

But this research tells us that if we can find ways to inject some enjoyment into the work day this can help us persist in our goals.

A simple way to do this is to encourage those we work with who are natural “fun-seekers” to let their “fun flag fly.”  These folks are often told to “get serious.”  Maybe we need to encourage one another to “lighten up” more.  I am fortunate that I’m on a “work hard, play hard” team.  We recently hosted a very successful regional conference and you can check out some fun we had at the final event with our University of Maryland mascot, Testudo, here.

Maybe your office needs a social committee or a fun committee? 

Or maybe this will all happen more organically as more millennials enter the work place – I think they will insist on a little more fun included with work.

Certainly we want to encourage one another by focusing on the long term vision of what we are doing – especially for those of us working in very challenging human services capacities.  But doing the best we can to add some joy to the daily work will help us all persist and make even more of a Mission Impact.

*Woolley, K. & Fishbach, A.  Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, “Immediate Rewards Predict Adherence to Long Term Goals,” pp. 1-12, 2016.

For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

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